In the same week The Block got cancelled due to social distancing like everyone else, the show’s popular buyers’ advocate, Nicole Jacobs, has offered this helpful advice for buyers and sellers in a rapidly changing real estate market.
In such a highly regulated industry such as real estate, the rules have changed almost overnight and are still evolving to meet the safety requirements of our nation.
What has changed?
There are currently no more public or private auctions to be held. Regardless of social distancing measures, the only auctions allowed are to be online. Public open for inspections of a property are no longer allowed.
So what does this mean to those currently selling their home or indeed thinking of selling their home in the near future? How will potential buyers view their properties and make a decision to buy?
The answer is go digital. For many years we have been speaking about an industry disruption, and now it is here.
Selling your property or indeed looking to buy a property will need to be done digitally for the most part and then, once you have researched you will have an opportunity (currently) to view the property with a private viewing (so long as you meet the safety criteria surrounding Covid-19 of course).
Interstate or overseas buyers will need to rely solely on videos and real time walk-throughs with agents, either the selling agent, a buyer’s agent or the company engaged to walk through by one of these two parties.
Contracts will be signed in the most part digitally as well. This is something that will remain I am sure. We have been doing this prior to Covid-19 but it will push many to use this mode of signing as an industry standard.
All buyers will now, through the methods of viewing properties before being allowed into a home on a one-on-one inspection, be well and truly qualified. The days of casually walking through a property on a Saturday or midweek are sadly gone.
What hasn’t changed?
The ability to go online and view floorplans, photos and position via maps is still available. Some agencies were already providing walk-through videos or 360 video tours. These will step up in detail and provide opportunities for interactive audiences as well as generally. Expect more cupboard-opening and views from different angles so you can get a ‘feel’ for the property. External shots and street views too.
Make sure you are finance ready. This means just like before Covid-19, your broker or financial institution has given you approval in writing.
Building and pest inspections are still moving ahead (currently). These inspections are done to give you additional information about the property so you don’t buy blind. Knowing if it needs a new roof or gutters is better before you sign the contracts.
Solicitors and qualified conveyancers are still checking contracts. Do not buy without getting this done.
What to be aware of:
Right now, many agents are shifting their auction campaigns over to either sale by private negotiation (private sale, best offer, sale by set date) or Expression of Interest (EOI) campaigns. You will need to check with each agency as to their Rules of Engagement here. Some will have forms for you to submit an offer, some will require it on a contract of sale and some will accept an email offer. They all differ as to the process their agency follows.
It’s important to note that unless a property is moving from a public auction to an online auction, on the same advertised date and time, the mode of sale will mean you have a cooling off period. If the property is auctioned online, then you will still be under auction conditions – the property will sell to the highest bidder unconditionally (no cooling off, no subject-to conditions).
Currently, we have agents advertising auctions still, stating they are going ‘online’ in order to elicit a sale within the auction conditions. Ask which online auction platform they will be using.
While the majority of agents are doing the right thing, there will always be one or two that are not playing on a level playing field. If you at any stage feel pressured or are unfamiliar with the new rules, call the regulating industry body for your state.
–Nicole Jacobs is the director of Nicole Jacobs Buyer Advocates and a regular on The Block.